Facts don’t care about your feelings.
That is the tagline made popular by Ben Shapiro, a well-known political analyst. He is Jewish (religiously and ethnically), and is very conservative politically. Shapiro heads up The Daily Wire, an organization filled with helpful political commentary from a conservative perspective. One of his more recent hires was an already famous blogger, Matt Walsh.
Walsh is like Shapiro. Not a christian, but a conservative with a brilliant mind. He has won the hearts of many, not just his fellow Roman Catholics, because he is such a strong writer and thinker. However, Walsh yet again used his Twitter to demonstrate why Christians need to be very careful gleaning from him.
Walsh has used Twitter to promote things like baptism being necessary for salvation, the universe being billions of years old, and many other theological positions with which I take issue. On more than than one occasion now Walsh has used his Twitter account to go after his perception of the Reformed understanding of predestination. The more recent Twitter episode, of which I am here addressing, is perhaps the most telling of all in regards to why he takes this strong stand against Reformed soteriology.
A Predestined Blunder
If you were hoping that I would use this post to engage in a “predestination” debate, I am going to disappoint. It is not my intention at all to engage in that debate, or even express my opinions. I have done that on this blog, but there is something far more pressing here. Rather, I am not so much concerned that Walsh rejects predestination, as I am with why he rejects it. Walsh’s biggest blunder is the unbiblical and hypocritical means he uses to reject predestination.
(When I use the word “predestination” I am referring to the Reformed understanding of that word. The word is in the Bible, and therefore ALL Christians believe in it. The debate between Reformed thinkers and non-Reformed thinkers is over what the word means.)
By What Standard?
During Walsh’s Twitter debate, he told his opponent who was attempting to cite Romans 9 that there is “no use quoting the Bible” since that view of God is allegedly contradictory. This is just an awful way to try and argue the Bible.
Walsh argues that a god who “preordains millions to eternal conscience torment” is like a “square circle” because, by definition, that God cannot be “good and loving.”
1) Begging the Question
Notice all the presuppositional baggage Walsh brings to the table. When He claims a good and loving God would never do something, the question is begged. Says who? How does Walsh know what a good and loving God ought to look like? How does Walsh know whether or not the actions of a divine, eternal, omniscient, holy being have direct analogs to the actions, desires, and wills of creaturely, limited, sinful beings? Where does Walsh get his sure, confident, objective, infallible knowledge of exactly what a loving God acts like?
The ironic thing is that he cannot claim he gets it from the Bible. He already dismissed what the Bible might say based on his presupposition. He came to the bible already knowing what a good and loving God is apparently, and that is why there is no sense in quoting the Bible to him. He has made up his mind before entering into the biblical discussion. Such is the reason he cannot be bothered with things like exegesis.
2) Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings
That seems to be the reason why Walsh rejects predestination off hand: emotions. For Walsh, his emotional response to God being sovereign in salvation makes predestination a doctrine of devils. What is so sad to see here is this is the very debate tactic used by liberals Walsh and the rest of Daily Wire spend so much time criticizing.
When Walsh establishes “good and loving” on the basis of something other than Scripture, he is engaging in the very man-centered authority system for which Christians rebuke secularists. The problem for Walsh is that, by his own standard, there are no breaks on this “questioning the goodness of God” train. Walsh’s anti-biblical approach cuts the branch on which he is sitting. If one can know, apart from the Scriptures, that a good and loving God would not pe-ordain anyone to an eternal hell, can such a person know whether or not a good and loving God would send someone there at all?
For example, there was a time during my undergrad I used to dialogue with a non-Christian friend about Christian doctrine. One of the largest conversation topics that came up for us was the doctrine of hell. I cannot remember whether he rejected hell altogether or held to some form of Annihilationism, but he certainly rejected the view of Hell Walsh and I have in common. And his rejection of people going to hell was based on the same standard that Walsh’s rejection of predestination stems from.
At one point in time he told me something akin to,
I have a son. And there is absolutely nothing he could possibly do to merit eternal conscious torment. No mistake he could ever make is worthy of eternal, unending horror. No matter what he did, I would never, ever be just to sentence him to an eternity of suffering based on his crimes.
Thus, any concept of an eternal hell is both immoral and illogical to my friend. Finite sins do not deserve infinite justice he reasoned; and thus, a God who would break such logic is immoral for doing so.
Walsh’s same argument has now been turned against him. To my friend, the thought of sending a human being to eternal torment was so evil and unloving, he would never believe in a God who would do that whether God preordained it or not. In his mind, a God who would create such a place as hell is a God who is by definition unloving and unjust. Unfortunately for Walsh, appealing to “logic” and emotionalism won’t get the job done, because two can play that game. Thus, my old friend could hypothetically tweet this to Walsh:
I hate to break this to you Matt Walsh, but you believe in a God who really is logical contradiction. No use quoting the Bible. A “good and loving” God who would send a finite sinner to an infinite torment is like a square-circle. It can’t exist.
Ironically then, Walsh is arguing against predestination as we would expect an unbeliever to argue. He is appealing to arbitrary personal standards, rather than God’s objective revelation. It seems like Walsh’s boss, Ben Shapiro, needs to remind him of his important catch phrase:
Facts don’t care about your feelings.
The debate over what God is like and what He does is won from the biblical texts, not our a priori assumptions of logic and morality. The facts of the Bible do not care about our feelings or perceived notions of the logic of God.
Consistent Roman Catholicism
Perhaps the real issue underneath Walsh’s denial of predestination is that Walsh does not have a high view of Scripture. I have always attested to the fact that the most serious issue of the Protestant reformation was the issue of authority, sola scriptura. That was more fundamental than even justification, because we need the correct authority at the start before we can move on to defining justification. And this is truly the heart of Walsh’s objection.
Rome continues today to deny the sufficiency of Scripture. Rome then officially allows for external authorities outside of Scripture to mandate dogma and direct interpretive flow. Thus, at the end of the day, Walsh’s dismissal of biblical texts should be expected. They are not his ultimate authority anyway.
Quote The Bible
Christians are free to debate the nature of predestination. However, the answer is in fact solved with biblical exegesis. The answer to what God has done is found in what God has self-disclosed. In other words, there is much use in quoting the Bible.